How the tech industry is greening its data centers

In 2013, U.S. data centers used 91 billion kilowatt-hours of energy

green data center

Data centers don't just suck down energy. They guzzle it. According to the National Resources Defense Council, data centers are one of the largest and fastest growing consumers of electricity in the United States. In 2013, U.S. data centers used 91 billion kilowatt-hours of energy, enough to power New York City households twice. The NRDC expects that demand to grow to 140 billion kilowatt-hours by 2020.

While companies like Amazon have been a target of campaigns from nonprofits like Green America, the NRDC says that larger server farms operated by well-known Internet companies are paragons of ultra-efficiency.

For example, Apple's U.S. corporate offices, retail stores and data centers are powered with 100 percent renewable energy, and are looking to hit the same marker internationally. Amazon is building a 150 megawatt wind energy farm in Indiana and an 80 megawatt solar farm in Virginia, expected to be up and running by January 2016 and October 2016, respectively

Also, CenturyLink, which has one of the world's largest datacenter footprints, has been powering some of its operations with natural gas and hydro-electric power. In May, they opened a central Washington state data center that derives more than 85 percent of its energy from hydro-electric.

Self-Powering Push

The desire to self-create energy clearly exists – and is getting stronger, says Marlene Motyka, U.S. alternate energy leader at Deloitte.

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